Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong
How does one learn to distinguish between different animal notes if one is not a perfumer? I can access a lot of the various botanicals used with ease, but animal scents are trickier. Civet, Castoreum, Musk, Ambergris: how can I learn to recognize and name these?
I guess the easiest way would be to order samples of each from a perfume supplier (like the Good Scents Company or Perfumers World). Of course, most animal-derived oils are now only available in synthetic form. The other way would be to seek out existing perfumes that contain prominent amounts of one of the ingredients. Lots of musk-based scents on the market...first civet scent that comes to mind would be Jicky or Rose Poivree (to save you some trouble...it smells like cat poop). Castoreum and Ambergris are a bit trickier to find prodimenent. I can't think of any for Castoreum...try Eau de Merveilles for Ambergris.
I'm sure others can suggest more perfumes to try. If you want to sniff a combo of animalic ingredients, try La Nuit by Paco Rabanne or Musk Koublai Khan by Serge Lutens.